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A/N: Again many, many thanks and hugs to Ellynn, my wonderful word wrangler who patiently works through my meanings! ((hugs))
September 1440 SR (17 FA), Ithilien
From the window of his office as captain of the White Company, Beregond watched Finduílas make her determined way across the courtyard from the stables. He thought upon how Faramir and Éowyn's fourteen-year-old daughter reflected both her parents’ spirits in different ways. She had Faramir's curiosity and intelligence, and she also possess her mother's fiery spirit and stubborn nature. Once she set her mind on something, woe betide anyone who stood in her way. He noticed with no little chagrin that her directed gait was taking her straight to his office. "Oh dear," he murmured. What plan was she cooking up and how does it involve me?, he thought. He loved the spirited young girl, but she could be a handful at times.
He moved back over to his desk and decided to pretend to work while Finduílas made her case for whatever it was she was planning. Within a few minutes he heard a light tap on the door. "Come!" he said in a no-nonsense tone of voice.
Finduílas entered and said brightly, "Captain, are you busy?"
Beregond replied while still looking down at the parchments on his desk. It was his only defense to not giving in immediately to whatever plan she was hatching. "I do rather have a lot to be getting on with, my lady."
Undeterred Finduílas continued hopefully, "Well, if you could spare a few moments? I have had an idea. It is for Mama and Papa's anniversary."
Beregond paused in his writing, sighed gently and placed his quill pen down on the blotter pad. He looked up into guileless blue eyes gazing at him with hope. He tried looking circumspect. It would not do to give in too easily, though that was likely to be the end result. He generally could not deny Faramir's children anything they asked. "And what is your idea?"
"Well," Finduílas began, encouraged that she had gotten Beregond's full attention, "as you know it is Mama and Papa's twentieth wedding anniversary and I wanted to give them a very special present."
"That sounds very thoughtful," Beregond stated, "What were you contemplating?" The trouble was always in the details, he thought ruefully.
“I thought that a piece of jewelry, made specially for them, would be really nice.”
“Aye, it would.”
“But it would have to be a very specially made piece. I think that only Master Telion could do what I want to have done. We are going to Minas Tirith next week for Leithril’s birthday, but I’m not allowed to go out into the City alone—”
“Quite right, too. A highborn young lady should not be allowed—” Beregond stopped himself in midsentence realizing the trap she had set for him. She was too clever by half. “My Lady…I will have duties to perform while in the White City. Why do you not ask Gamwen to accompany you?” he asked, referring to Finduílas’ nurse.
“Because she cannot keep a secret!” Finduílas declared. “And I want this to be a surprise! Please, Captain, I do so want to do this for Mama and Papa! Papa would never doubt my safety if I were with you,” Finduílas affirmed.
Beregond looked at the blond child in front of him. Her face held such an expression of hopeful promise. He sighed. It was a futile gesture to try and say no. “Yes, plan the outing and I shall accompany you.”
Finduílas flew at him, a flutter of skirts and ribbons, to give him a big hug. “Oh! Thank you, Captain! This will make Mama and Papa so very happy!”
“And that is always my duty to perform,” Beregond cheerfully stated with his hand on his heart. “Now run along and let me get back to work!” he ended with mock sternness.
Finduílas stood and gave a little salute. “Yes, Captain!” capping it with a sunny smile, turned on her heel and left at pace, fluttering skirts trailing in the breeze.
Beregond watched her run across the courtyard to the residence, and the thought of Daethel, his daughter who died before she had seen two winters, came unbidden into his mind. She would have been Finduílas’ age. He sighed and placed that sadness aside. It did not do to dwell, he thought as he returned to his desk.
The morning after Leithril’s birthday celebrations provided the quiet time that Finduílas needed for her stealthy mission to see Master Telion with her commission. Gamwen was clearly yawning as she was arranging Finduílas’ hair. Finduílas seized upon the opening that yawn presented. She had been looking for an opportune moment, but one had not yet presented itself. “Did you enjoy yourself last night, Gamwen?”
“Oh my yes, my lady! The servant’s banquet last night in honor of Lady Leithril’s birthday was quite grand. We danced and sang until the wee small hours of the morning.” The older woman yawned again. “I’m so sorry, my lady. I guess I am more tired than I thought…”
“Not to worry, Gamwen. It was a lovely night.” She paused. “Gamwen, I was thinking of going to the market faire down on the second tier today.”
A look of dismay crossed the nurse’s face before duty chased it away. “Yes, my lady. I shall ready outdoor attire for us both. It won’t take long at all.”
Finduílas saw the expected look cross Gamwen’s face and made her next move accordingly. “Prepare mine, but you should stay here. You are tired and I think you should rest.”
“Oh, my Lady! I could not. I could not allow you past the gates of the Citadel unattended. That would not be proper. Your father would never allow that.”
“But I will not go alone.” She paused as if to think. “I will ask Captain Beregond to attend me! That will satisfy Papa. He can have no doubt as to my safety if the Captain attends me.”
Gamwen looked at Finduílas and knew she was being gently maneuvered for a reason yet to be discovered. She decided to swim along this stream with her young lady. “Can the Captain spare the time?”
“I think I can persuade him.”
Gamwen eyed her young lady. Finduílas had a mischievous streak, this much she knew, but she also knew that the child had a good heart and whatever she was trying to achieve here, it would not be for ill. “Well, if I know the Captain can spare the time, mind you he will have to tell me himself. I won’t accept it otherwise. But,” Gamwen admitted, “the rest would be much appreciated, my Lady.”
“It will be our secret! I will bring him up here straight away! Come let us make ready!”
After breakfast, Beregond dutifully followed Finduílas to her suite of rooms to meet with Gamwen.
“Gamwen! We are here!” Finduílas called out.
The older woman came in from the bedroom with a knowing smile on her face as she laid eyes on Beregond. “Roped you into her mischief, has she?”
Beregond gave an indulgent smile. “As ever!”
“Can I go then, Gamwen?” Finduílas asked hopefully.
“Very well. Yes, you can go,” she said indulgently.
Finduílas clapped her hands together and kissed Gamwen on the cheek as she gave her nurse a brief, heartfelt hug. “Thank you!”
“Be off with you now, before your father finds out!” Gamwen exclaimed. Being of stoic Rohirrim stock overt expressions of affection flustered the older woman. Recovering herself some, she looked at Beregond. “Thank you, I know I need not tell you to keep her safe.”
Beregond nodded his affirmation and then turned to Finduílas. “Come, my Lady. We best be off and have the errand done with.”
Finduílas grabbed a light wrap to fend off any morning breeze before the day warmed up in a September fall day in Minas Tirith.
Master Telion stood at the front door of his shop on the fourth tierand breathed in the morning air as he stretched his back this way and that. He had been crouched over a commission for too long and needed a break. He had come down to the shop from the residence early in the morning to continue working on a particularly difficult piece for a particularly difficult patron, Lady Grothien. He smiled ruefully as he remembered the wise and prophetic words of his beloved mentor, Master Taethion. He heard Taethion’s gruff voice intone, “And there are others who choose to put on airs and pretend they are above us.” Telion remembered him pointing to a group who had attended Prince Faramir’s wedding when he was just an apprentice. “You won’t be able to tell them a thing. You’ll meet them all in our chosen craft, my lad.”
Lady Grothien was one such patron. He thought of Master Taethion, who taught him so much about his craft and so much about life. Gone from this world these ten years past and Telion still missed his gruff ways and his wisdom in equal measure. He felt always felt lucky when he thought of his old master. Lucky in the fact that Taethion had had the patience to teach a talented but often undisciplined young apprentice. Lucky that he had had two fathers in his life. Both were wonderful in their different ways. His father, Devrion, who had died in the year of the Ring War was a man of great perception when it came to his son. He had been an Ithilien Ranger who had served under Prince Faramir when Faramir had charge of the Rangers of Henneth Annun.
Devrion, as a father, had both wisdom and love. He loved his son, but was also wise enough to know that his artistic and soft-hearted son would not follow in his footsteps and he encouraged him to find his own path. Enter Taethion, who saw the potential in his young apprentice and shared much of himself so that the boy would succeed. Childless, Taethion left the jeweler’s shop to him at his passing. Telion, once the apprentice, was now the Master and he tried to pass all that he had learned to his apprentices as Taethion had passed on to him. Lucky indeed, though Nariel would say that once again he was selling himself short.
He smiled as he thought of his red-haired beauty of a wife. What she saw in him, he would never know, but he prayed that she would never come to her senses. Another portion of luck that had been bequeathed to him. He sighed and turned to walk back inside to his worktable when he saw two familiar faces heading towards his shop: Beregond, Captain of the White Guard, second only to Prince Faramir in Ithilien, and Faramir’s young daughter, Finduílas. A bond had been formed between Prince Faramir and Telion at first because of Devrion, but later through a mutual recognition that they were like souls. Telion thought then of the Princess Éowyn rubbing the twenty-year old scar that ran across the side of his face, received during the Siege of the White City. War provided bonds that otherwise would never have been forged.** Many times he and his family had been asked to come to Ithilien for a visit, as the families grew closer than average circumstances would have told. In fact, they had just received the invitation for Faramir and Éowyn’s twentieth wedding anniversary.
He called out, “Hello, Captain! Greetings! My Lady! And what brings you down to the Fourth Tier?”
"Master Telion! So good it is to see you!" Finduílas exclaimed cheerily. "And how is your ladywife?"
"Nariel is quite well. Thank you for asking, my Lady. She is in the residence tending to the twins."
"And how is Eiliandor?" Finduílas asked after the eight-year old bright spark that was the couple's oldest child and only son.
"As ever, full of energy and driving his schoolmasters to distraction." Telion looked a little at his wits end when mentioning his son.
Beregond took notice of this. He ventured an idea. "He has plenty of that, true enough. I could ask Faramir to speak to the King and find a place for him in youth training for the Tower Guard."
Telion paused before answering. He knew that training for Gondor's forces would be a good way for Eiliandor to channel some of his energy, but he had dismissed the idea for reasons he now realised were selfish. In his heart he knew he had to allow his son to find his own path, even if it led away for what he wanted for him. It was what his father had done for him. Telion inwardly admitted it was a choice he could not ignore if only to honour his father’s wisdom in allowing him his own direction in life. "I will talk with Nariel about it and will have an answer for you soon."
Beregond nodded, and Telion continued, "Now, with pleasantries dispatched, come inside and you can tell me what I can do for you."
The three entered the Jeweler’s shop and, as they settled the front parlor, Telion called out, “Cendir! Can you bring in the ’35 red please and three goblets. There’s a good lad.”
“So--” Telion began but was interrupted by a thud and a crash. He stopped and took a deep breath. “He is a good lad, hard-working and quite skilled when it comes to the actual work, but otherwise, he is all arms and legs!”
Beregond laughed. “Reminds me of another apprentice who lived in this shop.” He said looking pointedly at Telion.
“So very true!” Telion chuckled ruefully. “I have no idea how Master Taethion kept patient with me!”
A sheep-faced dark-haired youth of about sixteen winters entered into the small alcove that served as the front parlor carrying a silver tray with a decanter of wine and three goblets, one clearly different from the other. “Sorry Master Telion. But I broke one of the goblets,” he stated both contritely and needlessly. He set the tray down and one of the goblets fell over harmlessly.
Telion quickly said, “That’s all right. No harm done.”
Cendir nodded. “I will just clear up my mess. And then, did you want me to continue the Daerdir commission?”
“Yes, thank you Cendir. That would be a good idea.” The boy turned to go when Telion spoke again, “And remember, Cendir, use the gloves when cleaning up the shards. I don’t want you risking injury to your hands. A goblet can be replaced.”
“Yes, Master Telion.” He bowed to Beregond and Finduílas as he left the alcove.
“Now then!” Telion declared as he was pouring wine for Beregond and half a goblet for Finduílas. “Just a sip as we discuss, my Lady,” he explained as he handed her the goblet.
Finduílas accepted it with an excited anticipation. She sipped the wine and the slightly illicit sweetness rolled over her tongue. She had drunk wine before, of course, but generally only at home at meal with family. This was almost daring and she felt quite grown-up.
“What are we planning?” Telion asked as he sat back with his own goblet.
“Well. I was thinking,” Finduílas began, “as it is my Mama and Papa’s twentieth anniversary, I wanted to commission something from you. Something really special. The rings you made for them on their wedding are so beautiful. Maybe something to go with them.”
Telion had a faraway look in his eyes and got very quiet. After a moment he looked at Finduílas. “Leave it with me. I think I know what to do…”
** This is in reference to another story of mine, “Leaving Home; Coming Home Chapters 7, 15 & 17
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